Understanding Your Risk for Heart Disease

February is American Heart Month. Did you know that in the United States heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women? Yes, both!

Here are the top risk factors to be aware of:

  • Smoking. Please quit.
  • Diabetes. Control your blood sugar to reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Metabolic Syndrome. A combination of high triglycerides, high blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugar … metabolic syndrome can be reversed with proper treatment.
  • Obesity. Get that extra weight off. It could save your life!
  • Inflammatory Markers. There are treatments to decrease these markers.
  • Family History. This is the only risk factor you can’t change.

Women have some other risk factors that are less often shared by men and make them uniquely vulnerable to heart disease:

  • Autoimmune disease (notably more often than men)
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Hypertension during menopause (often completely missed)
  • Stress and depression

Finally, women differ from men in three significant ways that make heart disease more often fatal:


Women’s symptoms for a heart attack are often vague, including nausea, vomiting, indigestion, back pain, fatigue and shortness of breath. Because these symptoms may seem non-threatening, women don’t always seek intervention quickly.


Healthcare providers often fail to recognize these symptoms as symptoms of a heart attack, leading to a delay in treatment.


Even when diagnosis is made quickly and accurately, there’s an added hurdle. Women’s arteries are generally smaller than those of men, so a much smaller clot can completely block essential blood flow to the heart, brain or lungs. Smaller arteries also mean that the placement of arterial stents and cardiac bypass surgery are more challenging and less successful.

Although gender and genetics cannot be controlled, many other factors certainly can, beginning with awareness and being your own advocate. If you need a starting point, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices.

Be healthy. Be happy. Be well.

Dr. Josie

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FreshSkin Med Spa + Wellness
595 Elm Place, Suite 208 | Highland Park, IL 60035
www.myfreshskin.com | 847-681-8821